Sunday, April 22, 2012

Starting Marvel Fanfare with mindcontrol melodies

Back in 1982, Marvel started a new experiment in publishing: Marvel Fanfare, an anthology title that featured top creators crafting special stories printed on deluxe format paper. More bang for your buck, basically. 

 So, who was selected to kick off this auspicious new title? Considering Chris Claremont was one of Marvel's most popular writers it was pretty much a no-brainer he would write the first arc.

Unfortunately, while the format was new, the plot relied heavily on the old familiar mind control and enslavement shtick. It all started with Spider-Man and Warren Worthington teaming up in the Savage Land to find Karl Lykos, a man who was presumed lost.

Alas, what was supposed to be a relatively simple search & rescue mission turned sour when both Spider-Man and Angel were ambushed and captured by Brain Child and the other Savage Land mutates who subjected them to a little experiment.

This leads to several interesting mind control and transformation situations.

While Spider-Man fights against his conditioning, Angel fully embraces his new feral state.
In the end, both manage to break free and return to normal.

Alas, the damage was done by then: Lykos was forced to drain Angel's mutant energies, which caused him to revert to the villainous, energy draining man-reptile Sauron.  

Time to call in the cavalry... With Spider-Man returning to New York, Angel awaited the arrival of his fellow X-men. Together they set out to deal with Sauron and his henchmen.

After rather easily beating most of the Savage Land Mutates, they made their way to Sauron's island citadel and then this happened.

So... Not only have they had their will power silently sapped the second they entered the Savage Land and, now they are subjected to Sauron's mind control hypnosis and will soon get reverted to animalistic versions of themselves thanks to BrainChilds machine? 

Yes, I do believe we just hit the mind control trifecta. Angel barely managed to evade capture and met up with Ka-Zar. The lord of the Savage Land had a little trouble getting Angel to join him in opposing Sauron.

 Warren felt a little jittery going up against the raving reptile. But surely, what are the odds he would mess up and get beaten three times in the same story?

Ah, yeah. Oops. 

 Meanwhile, inside Sauron's citadel, Brain Child had Storm sent up for this particularly disturbing scene.
Having a drained, battered and virtually helpless woman dolled up and sent to your room is just... Wrong.  

 It didn't take long for Storm to knock out her dimunitive stalker. She escaped and freed the other X-men who made short work of both Sauron and his cronies.  

 All's well that ends well, and despite its obvious mind control involved flaws, the tale is well worth seeking out, if only because it features amazing art by Michael Golden, Dave Cockrum and Paul Smith in their undisputed prime.  

Doctor Strange doesn't mind... control

As we established previously, Chris Claremont has a certain appreciation for Doctor Strange.

By the time Marvel Fanfare rolled along in 1982, he got his chance to write the master of the mystic arts once more. This time, Claremont was paired up with the massively talented Paul Smith who would later join him on a short but memorable Uncanny X-men run.

Chris'  Strange tale appeared in Marvel Fanfare # 5 and featured a plethora of mind tampering and control. It all started with a little girl showing up at the doctor's sanctum sanctorum.

Leaving aside the obvious question how a little girl knows about the elusive sorceror supreme, let alone his place of residence... having a child show up at your door at four in the morning and entering like this is cause for concern.

A quick examination of the girl shows she's been drained of her magic potential, leaving her soul vulnerable to mind control. 

Strange decides to search the astral plane for the girl's mysterious assailant, but his apprentice/lover Clea already has a pretty good idea who it is... The villain to beat is, well, he just told you who he is. 

Nicodemus is a technomage that uses both science and sorcery to increase his somewhat limited magical powers. And who better to drain then Earth's master magician?

He robbed the little girl of her soul, in essence mind controlling her to enter Strange's home like a trojan horse. Once safely inside, a post hypnotic suggestion kicks in that forces the entranced girl to give Nicodemus entrance to the sanctorum.

And this is where the masterplan really kicks in... This rather ingenious move allows Necrodemus to surprise Strange and drain about half of his mystic might. 

Wait... wha? Did Strange actually shoot the girl? Sheesh, isn't that a little rough?

Have no fear true believer, this was back in the early 80s, before Watchmen, Dark Knight or all that other grim 'n gritty stuff Frank Miller did.. So, it was before good guys blasted innocent children... Well, not without a very good reason at least.

Watch what happens when Clea finally gets home and finds herself in deep doodah... 

So, Strange forces himself upon an already traumatised young girl, taking over her body and playing it like a puppet just to deliver a message? 

Talk about taking ''the doctor is in...' too literally.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Even dead X-men get mindcontrolled

By his own admission, Chris Claremont has very little interest in writing comics these days.

Whether or not this is a positive development is open for debate, but judging from today's entry, the two part mini series Chaos War: X-men, taking a break might actually be for the best.

As it turns out, Claremont's participation in the early 2011 company wide crossover Chaos War was actually his last Marvel work to date. He co-wrote it with another 80s comics icon: Louise Simonson,  long time editor of Uncanny X-men and writer of New Mutants and X-Force.

Their Chaos War tie-in actually didn't really tie in to the main storyline. In fact, the main villain, Japanese god of evil Amatsu-Mikaboshi, made a grand total of zero appearances. Instead, Claremont and Simonson focussed on several deceased X-men that had come back to life for reasons they themselves barely understood.

This resulted in an uneven, choppy story full of hazy events that were hard to follow despite the overwrought captioning... A tale that tried so hard to be atmospheric and dreamlike, it made itself absolutely irrelevant because of it. But oh my, did it feature mind control!

Barely four pages into the first issue, as lead characters like John 'Thunderbird' Proudstar, Banshee, Multiple Man and Moira McTaggert are trying to figure out what the heck is going on, the malevolent Stepford Cuckoo Esme forces their minds together so its 'easier to compare notes'.

Esme really is a bit of a handful, her fellow Stepford sister Sophie constantly complains about Esme's behavior and alledged superior power. Still, all the telepathic power in the world doesn't save her from the villain of the book:

Forget Amatsu-Mikaboshi, who needs a god of evil when you can fight Carrion Crow, a mind controlling, flesh warping bad guy who is chasing the group of recently resurrected dead X-men and it all involves one of Destiny's lost diaries.


Okay, enough is enough... This two parter is a convoluted mess, check out Wikipedia's brave attempt to make sense of it all:

During the Chaos War, Moira MacTaggart, Thunderbird, Banshee, Esme and Sophie of the Stepford Cuckoos, and Multiple Man's fallen clones are resurrected and appear on the former grounds of the X-Men school. There, Moira MacTaggart finds one of Destiny's diaries which contains a passage depicting the events of the war and apparently the key to defeating Amatsu-Mikaboshi.

After Thunderbird prayed to the Thunderbird God to teleport the group away from the attacking Carrion Crow, Thunderbird and the group learned that Moira has been possessed by Destiny's ghost.

Yeahhh... And that was just the first issue.

Issue two had Carrion Crow and the transformed Cuckoo pick off the dead X-men one by one... Starting with her own sister Sophie.

This went on for a good half of the issue until Thunderbird suddenly developed near mystical powers connected to the actual mythological thunderbird... Who is somewhat related to the Phoenix Force, but not quite, and... Ah well, there's more mind control:

Yup... Thunderbird, a man who died after only three appearances in an X-men comic in the late 70s... A man whose main characteristics were anger issues and the fact that his mutant abilities of enhanced strength, speed and senses made him little more than a bargain basement Wolverine... minus the claws... That man returns from the dead as a conduit for a previously unheard of primal force of the Earth? 

Chris Claremont may be done with writing comics, but... As far as swansongs go, Chaos War: X-men  isn't something to look back on with pride. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Mass media mind control

Being an X-man in the early 2000s didn't just meant you had to fight for a world that hates and fears you. There was also a good deal of 'leading by example' involved, after Xavier was outed as a mutant on live TV and his school for gifted youngsters was flooded with teen mutants eager to learn from the famed mutant heroes.

Grant Morrison introduced these concepts during his New X-men run and was the one who got to play around with them mostly. But Chris Claremont also got his two cents in when he was writing X-treme X-men. He had Sage and Bishop visit the Xavier institute to solve a murder, a visit in which the two of them got mind controlled by some rascally freshmen.

You'd think that such an act of total insubordination would result in a complete and utter crackdown from the teaching staff. The first issue of the two part X-treme X-men: X-pose miniseries shows quite the opposite is true...

X-treme X-men: X-pose (try saying that ten times fast) focussed on a pretty forgettable plot idea, best summed up by Wikipedia's clunky description: "The team deal with the public relations aspect of what they do. The team attempts to keep a mutant documentary on the air, despite efforts to kill it because it is not derogatory."


So, when reporters show up to do their job, Emma decides its the perfect time for a little lesson in ethics and restriction. Ow, who are we kidding here?

 "Indulge yourself, child. Run them through your MAZE."

Instead of actually trying to better the already strained relation between humans and mutants, Emma Frost allows untrained Stepford Cuckoo Esme to use a little mind control.

Needless to say, all objectivity in their stories drowned along with them. Great job, Frost!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spider-Woman's entitled to some mind control

Nowadays, Spider-Woman seems mostly linked to Brian Michael Bendis.

When he took over the reigns of the Avengers back in 2004, Bendis quickly made it a point to rebuild Jessica Drew into a flagship character. Whether or not Bendis' approach was the right one is besides the point, the first Spider-Woman has been firmly entrenched in the limelight...

But before there was Bendis, the Secret War, the Secret Invasion and the Secret/New/Sorta-new-Heroic Age Avengers... It was Chris Claremont that decided the dark angel's fate.

And of course, whenever Chris Claremont's writing your book, you'd best be prepared for some mind control.

Case in point, issue # 35, also known as the second issue Claremont wrote for the book. Spider-Woman faced a 60's inspired villain known as Angar the Screamer, whose very voice causes people to experience hallucinations that makes them do all sorts of stuff they normally wouldn't even consider.

Unfortunately, not even Jessica proves to be immune to Angar's vocal offensive. She's even subjected to a hallucination that proves frighteningly realistic.

Morgan Le Fay, the actual witch from the legends of King Arthur and Camelot days, had it in for our heroine. Not that she had time to consider the magnitude of this discovery, she had to finish off Angar the Screamer. A feat she accomplished by ripping open a few bags of cement that caused the Screamer to develop a rather large... lump... in his throat.

An interesting aspect of Spider-Woman's powers is her ability to acquire a natural immunity to any type poison she's been subjected to. Apparently, this also includes vocal powered mind control.

At least, that would explain what happens a few issues later when Jessica finds herself fighting Juggernaut, Black Tom Cassidy and Siryn, a young Irish girl whose super powered vocal cords were able to induce illusions.

Jessica was rescued by a team of X-men that had arrived in San Francisco to assist, unfortunately they didn't share her immunity to Siryn's screeching so the mind control trick could be used succesfully once more.

Angel dropped the dark angel like a ton of bricks, but fortunately she survived... long enough for Claremont to put her through the wringer  Morgan Le Fay decided to make good on her promise to exact her revenge on Jessica.

As all century hopping witches tend to do, Morgan took her merry time. After showing up as part of Angar's illusion, Morgan lay low for a while, only making her presence known when Jessica visited a medieval fair with her best friend Lindsay McCabe.

"The grand enchantment begins..."

With everyone else buying into the illusion, Jessica was quickly conned into believing she, in fact was Morgan Le Fay!

Jessica completely buys into her new identity, that is until she gets snapped back to reality when a plane flies over and rattles her back to her senses in a rather lovely sequence by artist Steve Leialoha.

"Its hard to remember... some kind of dream..."

Oh, no, its no dream... Something Jessica soon discovers when Morgan continues to attack her in real life... Le Fay holds Lindsay captive, trying to persuade the heroine to join Morgan.

"Thou art bound to him. As surely as the Earth is to the sun". 

Having a time hopping witch from the middle ages try and mind control you is bad enough, but when she explains you'd otherwise still be the unwitting servant of the Elder God Ch'ton... Just because that ancient demon lord was trapped in the mountain you spent your first 30 years on, wasting away in suspended animation? And you think you have problems...

As mind control goes, this one's a doozy. Doomed if you do, darned if you don't... 

Wonder how Spider-Woman handled that offer...

She could... And she survived.

Thank god for that natural immunity to mind control, eh?

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Doctor's Strange Mind Control

Oddly enough, despite his soft spot for all things magic, Chris Claremont never wrote that many Doctor Strange stories.

However, Claremont did use the sorceror supreme and his assistant Clea in two arcs he wrote during his run on Marvel Team Up. It goes without saying that this tale includes some form of magic inspired mind control.

The first one starts off in Marvel Team up # 77 and is actually rather mundane for Claremont mind control standards... Clea gets herself mind controlled by one of Strange's villains... The Silver Dagger.

By turning her love for Doctor Strange into hatred, Silver Dagger managed to mind control Clea into attacking... And she was actually winning for a while.

"She's not LISTENING to me."
Needless to say, it didn't take Doctor Strange to long to put his woman back in her place (for her own sake, of course... "You're you again? Great! Now get in that kitchen and let Wong show you how to make me a sandwich!)

To be fair, Claremont didn't waste time telling a tale in which the roles were clearly reversed. It all started with Spider-Man fighting a werewolf that looks remarkably like... Doctor Strange? Spidey manages to defeat his supernatural opponent and decides to bring him to the Greenwich Village abode of Stephen Strange.

Distraught as she may be, Clea still decides to use the all revealing eye of Agamotto to discover whether or not the werewolf truly is Doctor Strange. This is shown in an intricate and interesting composition of panels that belies the ostensibly simplistic and even crude Mike Vosberg art.

Yes... What DO we do now? Clea discovers the werewolf curse comes from a tribe of Tibetan monks, but before they can be advised, Werewolf By Strange breaks free and starts causing all sorts of mayhem. That is, until the daughter of Satan shows up to help. Satana is there to help free Strange from his lycantrophy or... well...

Back in the late 70s, Clea was often portrayed as Doctor Strange's insecure ingenue, his 'gal friday' that needed constant guidance and supervision because she wasn't (yet) ready to handle the burdens and choices a great magician was forced to face. 

Yet, when an unknown woman with demon skulls for boot ornaments shows up at her door to inform she's there to either save or kill her boyfriend... Clea doesn't blink and invites her in.

By next issue, Satana has apparently grown horns as she shares her plan of action with Clea.

Gotta love that Satana... "I will either save him, or if that doesn't work here's the gun that will kill him. Whatever...I'm covered." 

Long story short: during his mystical studies Doctor Strange came into contact with the Shiatra Book of the Damned that caused him to become susceptible to the Were Wolf curse... So, before long he became an agent of the demons on Earth.

But to break Strange free from his curse, a sacrifice was required... Guess who offered up her very life to help free Stephen?

 Strange is safe, so is Clea... but still the next issue blurb is right: "No way to treat a lady"